Best UK festivals: small, family, and music festivals to try this summer
Strap on those wellies and grab a rain poncho, because festival season is nearly upon us. This summer, we’ve got dozens of music festivals across the UK from TRNSMT in Glasgow to the Isle of Wight, so here’s your guide to the very best to try in 2023.
We know life can be a hard sometimes, so allow us to paint a picture for you: the sun has finally broken through the dour English clouds, you’re in linen trousers holding a cold glass of cider, and the beat of your favourite song is playing so loud that it thumps through your chest. That can only mean one thing: it's festival season.
In the UK, we’re incredibly lucky to have access to dozens, if not hundreds, of music festivals lasting all throughout the summer months. From the huge 100,000+ visitor festivals like Download to the smaller festivals on your doorstep like Standon Calling, we’ve got more choice than you could possibly want for this beloved summer activity.
The only problem, of course, is how to choose which festival to go to. If you’re basing it on music genre then you’ve got festivals for everything, including pop, rock, EDM, R&B, folk, musical theatre and so much more. If you’re looking for the best line-ups then there’s everyone from Guns N’ Roses and Metallica to the 1975 and Lizzo making appearances at festivals this year. Then you’ve got all the extra activities, too, whether it’s camping and watersports or cooking and comedy, to take into consideration.
With all these questions, plus children, to factor in, a pleasant search for a music festival can quickly turn into something overwhelming. Queue the RadioTimes.com theme music.
To help you sift through the endless line-ups, camping guides and funky names for tents, we’ve put together this list of the very best music festivals to try in 2023. We’ve included festivals from all over the country and for each, we’ve put their headliners as well as something unique about them, so you can quickly decide whether it’s worth it or not.
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For obvious reasons (ie, sold-out tickets) we haven’t included the biggest festival of them all: Glastonbury. But don’t worry, all these events are worthy replacements and often less expensive, so give them a look.
And, despite what we said earlier, the summer dates are never a guarantee of good weather. So, if you do decide to go to one of these fabulous festivals, make sure you pack some wellies and a jumper as well as your sun cream.
Without further ado, here are the best UK festivals to try in 2023.
Buying someone a festival ticket would be a great birthday gift, and for more present inspiration, take a look at the best experience birthday gifts.
- Best UK festivals at a glance
- Best family festivals
- Best small festivals
- Best music festivals
- How much do festival tickets cost?
- What type of festival tickets can I get?
- How to get festival tickets
- Kew the Music, from £36.88
- Barclaycard presents Latitude Festival, from £90.75
- Camp Bestival, Dorset, from £77
- Camp Bestival, Shropshire, from £77
- Deer Shed Festival, from £157
- Wilderness Festival, from £199.80
- CarFest, from £82
- Margate Summer Series, from £49.50
- Hampton Court Palace Festival, from £77
- Community Presents, from £54.45
- Truck Festival, from £160
- Kendal Calling, from £198.50
- Standon Calling, from £55
- The Festival of Quilts, from £16.50
- Trentham Live, from £50.40
- Connect Festival, from £74.25
- Isle of Wight Festival, from £99
- BST Hyde Park, from £84.75
- Lytham Festival, from £73.10
- Wireless Festival, from £88
- TRNSMT Festival, from £88.40
- All Points East, from £85.30
- Reading and Leeds Festival, from £101.20
Best UK festivals to try in 2023
To help with your decision, we’ve sorted these festivals three ways: family festivals, which will include great number of activities for kids as well as child-friendly headline acts; small festivals, which will focus on more local events usually with capacities under 15,000; and music festivals, which are the big blow-out events you see ruling the headlines.
Feel free to jump to whichever type of event suits you best. Whether you like a quieter atmosphere or are a mosh pit expert, we’ve got something for everyone. Enjoy!
Kew the Music
- 13th – 16th July 2023 – Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Set in the spectacular Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew the Music is a series of outdoor picnics that combines gorgeous views with classic hits. This year, you can see the likes of Bastille, The Vamps, and The Human League – Don't you want this baby?
Barclaycard presents Latitude Festival
- 20th – 23rd July 2023 – Henham Park, Suffolk
Barclaycard presents Latitude festival (formerly known as Latitude) is an award-winning music and arts festival set Henham Park, Suffolk. Its biggest asset is the park’s lake which allows visitors to swim, paddle board and have outdoor yoga sessions nearby. It also has tents devoted to poetry, theatre, literature and dance, and this year’s headliners include Pulp, Paolo Nutini and George Ezra.
For more information, you can find our guide to how to get tickets to Latitude.
Camp Bestival has been described as a "festi-holiday" thanks to its efforts to combine music with an all-round family experience. Now with two locations, in Dorset and Shropshire, Camp Bestival has highlights such as the world’s biggest bouncy castle and massive firework displays. This year, both will see appearances from Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Sam Ryder, while Dorset will have The Kooks and Shropshire has Rudimental.
Deer Shed Festival
- 28th – 31st July 2023 – Baldersby Park, Yorkshire
Deer Shed festival is run by families, for families. Set in Yorkshire, the festival has rides, canoeing, pottery and craft tents for children, skateboarding lessons, and so much more. It has a brilliant comedy tent featuring Phil Wang and Bridget Christie, and music from the likes of Public Service Broadcasting and The Delgados.
- 3rd – 6th August 2023 – Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
Wilderness is a four-day festival that encourages you to embrace your wild side and has a huge number of activities to help you explore the countryside of Oxfordshire. From paddleboard yoga to gathering lessons, it really takes you back to nature, while giving you acts like The Sugababes, Fatboy Slim and Arlo Parks.
Cinch presents CarFest
- 25th – 27th August – Laverstoke Park Farm, Overton
CarFest is an annual music and motoring festival famously setup by radio DJ Chris Evans. The festival raises funds for Children In Need and has an unbelievable range of entertainment for all ages. Petrol heads will love the race track and car exhibitions, while foodies can enjoy the famous chefs appearing on the Kitchen Stage. Plus, there's a huge kid's zone (this year featuring Pudsey, Basil Brush and the Teletubbies) and music from the likes of McFly and Craig David.
Margate Summer Series
- 2nd June – 30th September 2023 – Dreamland, Margate
Unlike most of the festivals on this list, the Margate Summer Series isn’t crammed into a single weekend. Instead, it takes place almost every weekend from June to September, bringing new acts to Margate seafront each time. It has a 5,000-person capacity, but you have plenty of weekends to choose from with this year’s including Tom Jones, Dizzee Rascal and Olly Murs.
Hampton Court Palace Festival
- 6th June – 17th June 2023 – Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
In the grandest of locations, Hampton Court Palace is an annual festival that fits only 3,000 people. It has two weeks of performances and is a great opportunity for picnics or upgrading to afternoon teas. This year you can choose from the likes of Soft Cell, Gladys Knight and Kaiser Chiefs.
- 7th July 2023 – Crystal Palace Park, London
The July, fans of Two Door Cinema Club and The Wombats will be treated to a special concert at Crystal Palace Park in London. Also featuring The Vaccines, Sea Girls and Baby Queen, this festival is a one day wonder in one of London's most beautiful parks.
- 21st July – 23rd July 2023 – Hill Farm, Steventon
Despite a capacity of 30,000, Truck Festival is known as “The Godfather of the small festival scene” or a “miniature Glastonbury”. It started off as an alternative to the more commercial music festivals in 1998 and has kept its small and indie music ethos as it’s grown in popularity. Promoting only independent music, this year has headliners Two Door Cinema Club, Alt-J and Royal Blood leading the way.
- 27th – 30th July 2023 – Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria
Kendal Calling is a festival that features music from the rock, indie, dance, folk and electro genres, as well as comedy. Over the years, it’s grown from a two-day, 900 capacity event in 2006 to a 25,000 four-day festival. But despite its bigger size, the large space of Lowther Park and the family-friendly options make for a much safer and more relaxed environment than other festivals, with Kasabian and Blossoms singing this year.
For more information, we have a guide to how to get tickets to Kendal Calling 2023.
- 20th – 23rd July 2023 – Standon, Hertfordshire
Set in Hertfordshire, Standon Calling will have the likes of Years & Years, Self Esteem, Bloc Party and The Human League this summer. It’s also famous for its friendly, inclusive atmosphere and varied activities such as inspiring talks, interactive workshops and hot tubs! Plus dogs are welcome, and they can participate in the annual dog show.
The Festival of Quilts
- 3rd – 6th August 2023 – The NEC, Birmingham
It's time to get crafty! Europe’s leading patchwork and quilting event, The Festival of Quilts, is celebrating its 20th anniversary at the Birmingham NEC this summer. With special guest appearances from the textiles world, plus competitions, galleries and workshops, you'll spend your time there in a magical sea of texture and colour!
And best of all, you can get money off your ticket by using the code RADIOTIMES23 when you purchase. This will take your ticket down from £18.50 to £16.50, so off you go – indulge in those quilty pleasures!
- 16th – 20th August 2023 – The Trentham Estate, Stoke-on-Trent
On the stunning Trentham Estate in Stoke-on-Trent you'll find Trentham Live, a five day festival featuring some of the biggest names in the music industry. Over the course of the week, visitors can expect to see McFly, The Hoosiers, Kaiser Chiefs, Natalie Imbruglia and more. This is only Trentham Live's third year of running and it's already packed full of world-class acts and activities.
- 25th – 27th August 2023 – Royal Highland Showgrounds, Edinburgh
Last on the small festival list is Connect Festival, which prides itself on being able to connect people through all types of music, from grassroots bands to global stars. It takes place on the Royal Highland Showgrounds in Edinburgh and expect Scottish bands, personalities and food tents. This year, its headliner is Primal Scream present Screamadelica, alongside Franz Ferdinand, Future Islands and more.
Isle of Wight Festival
- 15th – 18th June 2023 – Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight
This Isle of Wight Festival started off in the late '60s as a Wood Stock-style counterculture festival, but now it’s known for mixing iconic legends with the hottest up and coming acts. Its music spans multiple generations and the Kidzone makes it perfect for families. This summer, Pulp, George Ezra, The Chemical Brothers and Robbie Williams will all be sailing over to Seaclose Park.
BST Hyde Park
- 24th June – 8th July 2023 – Hyde Park, London
American Express’s BST (or British Summer Time) Hyde Park is a massive set of concerts spread over three weeks, with each one featuring a very different headliner. This year, P!nk, Guns N’ Roses, Take That and BLACKPINK are the first to perform, each with their own supporting acts to make up a full day of entertainment. You can pick whichever concerts suit you best – but beware that P!nk and Bruce Springsteen dates are running out of tickets.
- 28th June – 2nd July 2023 – Lytham St Anne's, Lancashire
Lytham Festival has grown massively in recent years, from a one-day concert to a five-day event in Lancashire's Ribble Estuary. Its acts vary massively across genre and decade, with this year’s line-up including Jamiroquai, George Ezra, Sting, Lionel Richie, Def Leppard & Mötley Crüe.
- 7th – 9th July 2023 – Finsbury Park, London
A great pick for young people trying out their first event, Wireless is an urban music festival that celebrates hip hop, rap, Afrobeats and grime artists from all over the world. It also serves up new artists who have pioneered their own sound and has an incredible party atmosphere, all in London’s Finsbury Park. This year, Travis Scott and Playboi Carti are leading the way with special guest 50 Cent also making an appearance.
For more, take a look at this guide to how to get Wireless tickets 2023.
- 7th – 9th July 2023 – Glasgow Green Park, Glasgow
All the way up in Glasgow you can find the very best of pop, rock, hip hop and indie music acts with TRNSMT festival. After starting in 2017, this festival has quickly grown into a major Scottish event with the likes of The 1975, Pulp and George Ezra singing this year. It also has plenty of other stages, plus food stalls and bars.
All Points East Festival
- 18th August – 28th August 2023 – Victoria Park, London
All Points East is annually held over two weekends in Victoria Park and has huge stars including Stormzy, The Strokes and Haim this year. It also runs a programme of free to enter areas for the local community called In the Neighbourhood, such as an outdoor cinema as well as theatre, arts, and sports activities.
Check out our guide to how to see Haim at All Points East.
Reading and Leeds Festival
Last but very much not least is Reading and Leeds Festival, taking place over the same weekend in Bramham Park and Richfield Avenue. These twin events have an amazing line-up of music from rock to grime, with Billie Eilish, Sam Fender and The Foals taking to the stage this year.
It's definitely no secret that festival tickets can be massively expensive, with Glastonbury tickets this year topping out at £335 in an all-time high. For the rest of them, sadly, it's a similar picture, with Download tickets costing £345 and Reading tickets priced at £286 each. In reality, if you're going for a weekend festival with big acts and camping included, you're usually going to be paying a minimum of £250.
If you're not looking to spend that much, we would recommend going with the events where camping isn't an option like Parklife, where you can get a full weekend of access for £135. Or, if you want to spend even less, pick the festivals where you only turn up for specific days like All Points East (from £101) or BST Hyde Park (from £84).
However, the cheapest prices are always going to be for the small festivals where you might not know as many of the acts. Events like Standon Calling and the Margate Summer Series run tickets from £50 if you pick specific days or specific acts, so if you just want a little taste of the festival life, maybe try one of these first.
There's a range of festival tickets you can get, but generally most festivals will offer single day tickets and whole weekend tickets, which may or may not include camping. You can also upgrade to VIP or hospitality experiences which will include access to special tents and sometimes backstage.
With certain festivals, you can also buy campervan or tepee tickets so there's no need to sleep on the floor. For the spread out events like BST or the Margate Summer Series, you'll likely have to book specific acts rather than getting multiple dates.
We recommend staying away from resale sites as the often charge extortionate prices and don't actually guarantee you entry.